Kurt Cobain Remembered: Outtakes From Revolver’s Buzz Osborne Interview
April 5, 2011, marks the 17th anniversary of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s death. In remembrance of him, Melvins frontman Buzz Osborne (pictured left) gave a personal and emotional account of him in Revolver’s January/February “Fallen Heroes” issue (available here). He had so many great stories about Cobain, we couldn’t fit them in the magazine. So, in reverence, enjoy some of Osborne’s funnier memories of Cobain below.
REVOLVER What sorts of things did you and Kurt find funny?
BUZZ OSBORNE We laughed about a lot of stupid stuff. One thing he did [laughs], it was in this apartment that had no heat, no electricity, no water. And we found this baby doll. For some reason he had this case of shaving cream. I don’t know where it came from, but it was a whole case of green shaving cream. So he drew the baby up like it was all butchered—like the butchered baby on the Beatles cover—and he hung it on the hook of his front window in his apartment. Then drew blood all over the window, then sprayed this green foam and just left it—I don’t know for how long. It was in the middle of this really nice suburban neighborhood. It’s just stupid, I mean, we had a lot of fun with stupid stuff like that
We would make all these fake magazines, like, pretend we’re going to make this magazine that has porno, biker, and gore in it. That’s our target audience, and we’re going to call it Sluts and Gore. So we’d spend all this time making these stupid collages out of cutting up all these other porno mags, and he would draw all these crazy pictures. I wish I still had those; they were hilarious. Fat women getting cut up, [laughs], really sick, black humor type stuff that was really funny.
Didn’t Kurt draw a Kiss mural on a car?
[Laughs] We were always doing stupid stuff, like any junker car any of us had, we would put a sign on the back of it that would say “in tow.” And the Kiss mural, he did it with a felt-tip pin. I mean, it looked like Kiss, and we thought it was funny. He also drew a big picture of a big fat Viking wearing a diaper with Molly Hatchet written over it, like a Boris Vallejo cover. Not that we were big Molly Hatchet fans. [Laughs] Then we started playing music and stuff like that. He drew a bunch of stuff for the Melvins that we used. Stickers and logos and all sorts of crap. We sill have that stuff.
We used a flower T-shirt design that he did that was really cool. I don’t know where he stole it from; we wanted it to look like a kid drew it. He was really exceptionally good at all that stuff. And interestingly enough we played a show with Green River a year and a half ago. And the bass player from Green River [Jeff Ament, also of Pearl Jam] worked at a place that made stickers way back then, and we gave him that original art and he turned it into a sticker, and he gave me one of those original ones. And we played a show with him, and he’s had it this whole time. It’s pretty funny. Like, Wow, cool!
I wish I had more of that stuff. But it wasn’t like we were cataloging this for the future. We didn’t know what we were going to do next week. We had bullshit jobs. It would’ve been nice if I had fond memories to look back on. A lot of it’s not good, you know. It’s too bad. Where we grew up affected who we became. And only because I meticulously fought my way out of that, I survived. I changed my whole life. Everything. Not because of him, I changed it before that. I started moving in a different direction.
I don’t think I could stand the situation they were in; the people they were involved with, managers, to booking agents, to road crews, all of those kinds of things. I think in order for me to have not fired them or to have pulled myself out if completely, I would’ve had to have been on drugs. I can’t stand arena-level rock type of thinking. I’m far too much of a Groucho Marxist for any of that kind of thing. I don’t want to do it the way Mötley Crüe does it, you know. I intentionally don’t want to. I want to be the other way, and they always understood that about us.
Melvins and Nirvana toured together a lot. Do you have a favorite memory of Kurt from the road?
There was one instance where we were on tour, I think it was in Slovenia. He was in our dressing room, and our dressing room had these smoked-glass windows. You could kind of see through it and you kind of couldn’t, and he was in our dressing room talking to us through a trophy case in our dressing room. It was filled with all of these old urn-looking trophies, but it was all in a foreign language, so we couldn’t understand it. It was wooden trophies and plaques and all kinds of things like that. And the line for the concert went right past our dressing room. You could see there were people in there, but you couldn’t see it was us in our room. We realized the trophy case was open, so we opened the trophy case, and then he pulls open the window. It was high enough where nobody could get in, but you could see him in there. So he starts looking down at the ground, and he’s like, “Hey!” And everybody just fucking surges over there. There’s a surge over there, “Ahh,” you know. And so he says, “Give me one of those trophies, hand me one of those things.” So he starts handing them outside, and it was like he was throwing them into a wood chipper. It was hilarious. [Laughs] It was really funny, shit like that. Passing out notes. “How old’s your mom?” type stuff. Stupid shit. We always thought shit like that was really funny. I always loved stuff like that.
Nirvana photo by Chris Cuffaro